10/14/2010 12:46PM

Juveniles steal the spotlight at Newmarket


The Champions Day card at Newmarket on Saturday will be highlighted not by the prestigious Champion Stakes, but by Britain’s definitive juvenile contest, the $504,000 Dewhurst Stakes, a seven-furlong Group 1 featuring a clash between Frankel and Dream Ahead.

Both colts are undefeated; both have aired in all three of their victories. Frankel, Juddmonte’s son of Galileo named for their late American trainer Bobby Frankel and trained by British training legend Henry Cecil, has been off the radar in his last two outings, winning a 7-furlong, 3-runner allowance at Doncaster by 13 lengths, then destroying the one-mile, Group 2 Royal Lodge field by 10 lengths. If there is a knock against him, it is that he is cutting back to seven furlongs after having won the Royal Lodge on the uphill Ascot mile. Tom Queally will ride.

Dream Ahead, a David Simcock-trained son of Diktat, is already a two-time Group 1 winner. After a nine-length maiden triumph at Nottingham, he took the Prix Morny by 1 1/2 lengths at Deauville, then slammed seven rivals in Newmarket’s Middle Park Stakes by nine lengths, all of those victories coming at six furlongs. Out of a mare by the sprinter Cadeaux Genereux, there may be some doubt about his ability to stay a mile, but he should be able to handle seven furlongs with William Buick aboard.

But if seven panels proves too short for Frankel and too long for Dream Ahead, Godolphin’s Saamidd will love the distance. The son of Street Cry made it 2 for 2 at seven furlongs with a 2 1/4-length score in Doncaster’s Champagne Stakes and will have Frankie Dettori in the saddle.

The $598,000 Champion Stakes over a straight 1 1/4 miles could hardly have come up more competitive. Six Group 1 winners of 11 Group 1 races are among the 11 entries in the race, which is a Breeders’ Cup Win and Your In race for the BC Turf . They are led by the selection Vision d’Etat, who can give French-trained horses their third win in the last five renewals.

Trained by Eric Libaud, Vision d’Etat has won four Group 1’s at or about 1 1/4 miles. Ten for 15 lifetime, the only glitches on his record came when he failed going 1 1/2 miles in last year’s Arc and again when tried on a synthetic surface in the Dubai World Cup. The 4-year-old son of Chichicastenango is 8 for 8 between 10 and 10 1/2 furlongs, prepped with a victory in the Group 3, 1 1/4-mile Prix Gontaut-Biron, and will have the invaluable services of Olivier Peslier.

Twice Over is the defending titleholder. He won the Eclipse Stakes on July 3 but has since been second to Rip Van Winkle in the Juddmonte International and third to Cape Blanco in the Irish Champion Stakes. He needs to bounce back if he is to win this. Poet’s Voice nosed Rip Van Winkle out of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes for Godolphin three weeks ago, but the Dubawi 4-year-old has never been further than a mile. A second French raider, the Criquette Head-Maarek-trained Fuisse, is coming off a win in the one-mile, Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp but has hopes for the distance as he was second in last year’s French Derby.

Debussy is using the Champion as a prep for the Breeeders’ Cup Turf but is facing much tougher than what he beat when winning the Arlington Million. Team Valor’s Gitano Hernando has won four of his last five but is stepping up in class off a victory in the Group 3 Diamond Stakes on the Dundalk Polytrack.

Await the Dawn is the wild card. The Aidan O’Brien-trained 3-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway is coming off a nine-length blowout in the 1 1/4-mile, Group 3 Kilternan Stakes and has a license to improve in just his fifth career start.

Godolphin’s Delegator has the Breeders’ Cup Mile in mind in the seven-furlong, Group 2 Challenge Stakes. He had not run since finishing fifth in last year’s Mile until winning the listed, seven-furlong Dubai Duty Free Cup at Newbury on Sept. 17 and must improve for that effort.

Group 2 Blandford Stakes winner Eleanora Duse and George Strawbridge’s High Heeled, a heartbreaking second last time in the Prix de Royallieu, highlight the 1 1/2-mile, Group 2 Pride Stakes, which might yield a runner or two for the BC Filly and Mare Turf.